Michael Linford tells how a combined passion for books and music – and wondering which are the 20 best songs you would want to hear were the world to end – inspired him to write his debut novel, Music for the end of the world.
BY MICHAEL LINFORD
Name, age and area where you live in the UK.
Michael Linford, 36, from Bournemouth (in Dorset).
Book name, publication date, who book is published by.
Music for the end of the world, it was published in December 2012, by Indepenpress.
Is this your first book?
It’s my debut novel, I had previously self-published a couple of small poetry collections but never taken on a project like this.
What is the book about?
After a series of tragedies befalls 35 year old Londoner Will, he finds himself sitting on Parliament Hill on the day the world will end: December 21, 2012. As he listens to his apocalyptic playlist, he contemplates his 35 years on earth, through childhood and his lost loves; the friends he makes along the way and his struggles with alcoholism; his first rock festival and the Camden alternative scene he loves, and that provides the soundtrack to it all.
Although I haven’t written a novel before, I think there are certain aspects of the story which will always appear in future work. Aspects such as music, human emotion, love and loss, always seem to form the basis of my inspiration.
When did you start writing/what gave you the idea to write a book?
I started writing poetry in my teenage years as an output for various emotional issues I suffered from, like depression. I didn’t want to burden others with how I felt or cause them to worry, so I turned to writing as a form of therapy really to help get issues on paper and allow me to look at them and deal with them more rationally.
I’d always wanted to write a book but never seemed to stick on one idea long enough to get anywhere towards achieving this goal. However, a conversation in the summer of 2011 about the world ending, planted the seed of an idea in my head and from there it basically wrote itself.
How long did it take to write?
The book took me 6 months to write and I never found it that difficult as the story was flowing so quickly, it was more difficult to get the ideas out before they disappeared, than to write the book itself. I work 4 nights a week in a nursing home, so in a way I’m lucky that I get time both during certain days and certain nights too.
The book is based on so many of my own personal experiences and those of people I have been close to throughout my life and although this made it easier to write, it was uncomfortable at times dealing with emotions that I had locked away rather than worked through. I guess in the long run it will help though as the process of getting certain emotions and situations out in the open, means I can now move on from the emotional baggage they sometimes cause.
I think my friends and family were surprised at how much they liked it, but not entirely surprised at the touching nature of the contents. It’s always difficult to open your own heart and let others critique it, but that is the nature of the beast with any artistic endeavour.
How did you get published?
I had approached a literary agent and enquired with some publishers but rather half-heartedly, in researching the best way of getting published I spoke to other authors via Twitter and got advice from them. In the end it seemed some form of self-publishing would be my best bet and in the end I approached Indepenpress, who are an independent publisher in Brighton and after showing them my manuscript they seemed really positive about it. Once I’d met the team there, I knew this was the right publisher to use and I cannot fault their hard work and support they have given me ever since.
Was it hard to get published?
An awful lot of traditional publishing and the success you get with it appears to be down to luck these days, with so many famous people and reality television stars writing more and more books, it gets harder for the unknown to get noticed in the flood of books. I think self-publishing on E-book and decent imprint companies enable people to achieve their dreams of having a book published and that can only be a good thing. Personally, I enjoy the level of personalisation that non-traditional publishing gives you. I can look at my book and know that it’s exactly how I wanted it to be.
Where is your book is on sale?
It is also available online from Whsmith and Waterstones bookstores.
Any advice for other book writers?
The thing I would say to anyone who writes or wants to write, is to write a book that you would want to read. At the heart of any good book is one thing, an enjoyable story. There will always be critics and any writer will suffer more than their fair share of moments where they doubt themselves and think of packing it in, but don’t. Sometimes you just need to close the book and take some time away. Like anything in life, if you aren’t enjoying it then why force yourself to struggle through, take a break, relax and it’s amazing when the idea starts to flow again. Above all though, never give up because anything is possible.
Throughout the writing of this book I took inspiration for the idea of the final 20 songs you’d here before the world ends, by getting in touch with musicians and seeing if they would be prepared to send me their own personal lists. This achieved fairly good results and I ended up with lists from artists such as Nerina Pallot, The Wombats, Martin Rossiter and many more from the UK. I also got lists from a number of bands in the USA, including Kristen Hersh, Jesse Malin and The Dresden Dolls.
Find out more about Michael Linford here: Michael’s website